Hello and happy Tuesday, demons and dragonriders! Jenn here, back for one more installment, and bring glad tidings of new adaptations, covet-worthy new releases, LEGOs, a review of The Storm Runner by JC Cervantes, and more.
This newsletter is sponsored by Tor Books.
Mimi is a waste worker on Silicon Isle, an island off the coast of China submerged in the world’s electronic waste. Migrant workers come for a chance at a living wage and a better life, but conflicts between those in power, local gangs, and eco-terrorists are bubbling to the surface. Mimi must decide whether she will uphold the status quo or help shape a new world. From award-winning author Chen Qiufan comes Waste Tide, a new, thought-provoking vision of the future.
Let’s start with news:
The British Science Fiction Awards have been announced! Revenant Gun and Rosewater both made the list for Best Novel, but Embers of War by Garth L. Powell beat them out to claim the prize, it’s about a sentient ship, and now I am curious.
I have been WAITING for this announcement! Jinn, Netflix’s first Arabic series, involves teenagers and supernatural hijinks and will be out in June and my body is ready.
I don’t usually audiobook but I am very interested in an audiodrama based on William Gibson’s Aliens script, how about you?
There are now Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire LEGO sets, and I covet them extremely.
And last but not least I saw Avengers: Endgame and this post of things the Tor staff loved and hated captures my feelings my pretty well.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler: This is a gorgeous new edition of a classic Butler title, with a forward by NK Jemisin, and I honestly did not need a reason to buy a new copy but here we are.
Solo: A Star Wars Story, Expanded Edition by Mur Lafferty: Did y’all know Mur Lafferty was doing the novelization of Solo? Because I did not! And this apparently includes “scenes from alternate versions of the script including Han Solo’s time in the Imperial Navy, Qi’ra’s past, the beginnings of the rebellion, and more,” consider me intrigued.
Give me all the Mayan mythology-inspired books, starting with The Storm Runner by JC Cervantes:
This is where I confess that I don’t appreciate middle grade SF/F enough, and by “appreciate” mean “read.” I’ve been meaning to pick up most of the titles in the Rick Riordan Presents line, for instance, especially after a friend convinced me to finally read Percy Jackson a few years back (thanks, Preeti!). The Storm Runner is the first I’ve gotten to, and it is a DELIGHT.
Zane Obispo is a pretty average 13-year-old; he likes books and his dog, and hates school because that’s where he gets bullied and teased over having a short leg and a limp. He also happens to have a volcano in his backyard, which is his favorite hangout. (I was instantly jealous of this plot point, why was I not raised in the New Mexico desert near a volcano??!) One day, a girl shows up to tell him that he’s the subject of a prophecy and is fated to release an evil god, and then demons show up, and then he finds out that he’s not entirely human, and then the hijinks really start to kick into high gear.
We all know how well it works out when you try to defeat a prophecy and don’t know exactly who your dad is, am I right? It’s so much fun to see this trope rearranged and redone, this time with Mayan mythology. Cervantes throws in wonderful side characters — Zane’s psychic neighbor, his Lucha- and punk rock-loving uncle, a surf-boarding goddess — alongside some very gross, pus-oozing demon, and the plot unfolds at a brisk clip. Zane is an endearing narrator; he’s a kid who has very few illusions about the world, but hasn’t let that break his spirit, and his determination to take care of his friends and family (and dog!) is just the best.
A balanced SF/F diet includes the heady and intense, the light and fun, and everything in between, and for me that means chapter books alongside YA and adult fiction. Perhaps a new series like this will help me remember it more often! I loved spending time in this world, and my timing is good for more; the sequel, The Fire Keeper, comes out this September.
And that’s a wrap! You can find all of the books recommended in this newsletter on a handy Goodreads shelf. If you’re interested in more science fiction and fantasy talk, you can catch me and my co-host Sharifah on the SFF Yeah! podcast. For many many more book recommendations you can find me on the Get Booked podcast with the inimitable Amanda, or on Twitter as jennIRL.
I’ll be back
(but probably not for a while),